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Jun 7, 2024 3:27 am

Skidding Nationals seek bounce-back effort vs. Braves

Braves, Nationals

The Washington Nationals will look to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Atlanta rallied to take the series opener 5-2 on Thursday and has won three of four.

The Nationals have managed just six runs over their past three games. On Thursday, CJ Abrams and Lane Thomas hit back-to-back solo homers in the sixth inning. The next two batters singled, but Washington was unable to add on against Atlanta starter Reynaldo Lopez.

“I think we’ve just got to build off those at-bats and get guys on in those situations,” Thomas said. “Two solo shots? You’ve got to score more than two runs against a team like that.”

Abrams struck out in his first two at-bats before the homer and is just 2-for-25 over his past six games, dropping his average from .266 to .246. Manager Dave Martinez hopes the home run is a sign of things to come.

“Before his third at-bat, he walked by and said, ‘I’ve got him this time.’ And he did. He got him,” Martinez said. “Hopefully that will get him going a little bit.”

Somebody already going well for Washington is Jesse Winker, who had his third multi-hit game in his past four contents. He has reached safely in 18 of his past 21 games, posting a .313 batting average (20-for-64) with 10 RBIs and 10 runs in that span.

Atlanta’s offense is starting to get going. Adam Duvall hit a two-run homer to tie the Thursday game in the seventh inning, and Marcell Ozuna’s two-run homer capped a three-run eighth inning.

“A walk and then a blast, or a base hit and a blast,” said Duvall, who has 19 career homers against the Nationals. “Up and down the lineup, we’ve got guys that can drive the baseball, so we always feel like, at any moment, we can kind of strike.”

Ozuna delivered his 18th homer of the season. Since May 5, he is hitting .327 (34-for-104) with six doubles, nine home runs, 23 RBIs and 17 runs.

Atlanta outfielder Jarred Kelenic was out of the lineup. He left in the eighth inning on Wednesday at Boston, two innings after jamming his right wrist while making a diving catch.

Left-hander Chris Sale (8-1, 3.06 ERA) will start for Atlanta on Friday.

Sale was selected the NL Pitcher of the Month for May after going 5-0 with a 0.56 ERA. He allowed 23 hits in 32 innings while striking out 45 batters and walking only two.

On Saturday, Sale gave up eight runs on nine hits over four innings of a no-decision against the Oakland A’s. He struck out four, walked one and allowed two home runs after yielding none during May.

“It kind of just kept unraveling,” he said. “With (a start) that bad, there should be a pretty glaring fix. I obviously have some work to do.”

Sale is 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in four games (two starts) against the Nationals.

Right-hander Jake Irvin (3-5, 3.39 ERA) will go for Washington. Irvin is 1-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 18 1/3 innings over his past three starts. On Sunday, he gave up two runs on five hits in six innings en route to a win at Cleveland.

Irvin is 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA in two career starts versus Atlanta.

–Field Level Media

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